Nos­tal­gic for Clin­ton in the age of Obama

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - Tony Blank­ley

Ihate to ad­mit it, but I miss Bill Clin­ton. At least that lech­er­ous old charmer was more amus­ing than his suc­ces­sor as a Demo­cratic pres­i­dent, our new mor­ti­cian-inchief, Barack “end of the world” Obama.

Still, our new pres­i­dent’s spokesman did de­liver the fun­ni­est line of this so far not­too-funny mil­len­nium. Two weeks ago Mr. Gibbs said the pres­i­dent — who had in the pre­vi­ous cou­ple of weeks talked about our econ­omy be­ing a catas­tro­phe from which we might never re­cover — called the pres­i­dent “an eter­nal op­ti­mist.”

I ap­pre­ci­ate that pres­i­den­tial spokes­men are not al­ways known for their can­dor. And putting a pos­i­tive gloss on his boss’ im­age is barely an in­frac­tion, given the howlers that have of­ten come from that podium. But re­ally, one prefers one’s per­fidy to be at least plau­si­ble. If our econ­omy in a death spi­ral is Mr. Obama’s up­beat ver­sion of events, one can only trem­ble at what he would sound like when he turns a lit­tle glum.

Per­haps it was with those com­ments in mind that Mr. Clin­ton took the op­por­tu­nity — while pur­port­edly com­pli­ment­ing his suc­ces­sor — to ad­vise Mr. Obama he ought to try to be a lit­tle more up­beat about the econ­omy.

(One of the more en­joy­able en­ter­tain­ments we can look for­ward to over the next four years will be watch­ing Bill Clin­ton sneak in lit­tle dis­parag­ing state­ments about his suc­ces­sor ev­ery time he pre­tends to com­pli­ment him. Bill is ob­vi­ously be­ing driven nuts by Mr. Obama. Af­ter all, as I re­call, Mr. Clin­ton once com­plained he could have been a great pres­i­dent if only he had a de­pres­sion or ma­jor war to pre­side over. How en­vi­ous he must be of Mr. Obama, who may be in the process of turn­ing an eco­nomic down­turn into a de­pres­sion and a small war in Afghanistan into a ma­jor war in Pak­istan. Well, Bill, great men make their own op­por­tu­ni­ties.)

None­the­less, things do seem a mite nasty at the mo­ment. And Bill Clin­ton’s ad­vice to be more cheer­ful re­minded me of the clos­ing song in Monty Python’s “Life of Brian.” Brian, a Christ­like fig­ure in this com­edy, had just been nailed to the cross by the Ro­mans and was in the process of dy­ing from his cru­ci­fix­ion, when he broke out in a cheer­ful lit­tle toe-tap­ping song, part of the lyrics go­ing:

“. . . al­ways look on the bright side of life. . .

“Al­ways look on the light side of life. . . “If life seems jolly rot­ten “There’s some­thing you’ve for­got­ten

“And that’s to laugh and smile and dance and sing.

“When you’re feel­ing in the dumps “Don’t be silly chumps “Just purse your lips and whis­tle — that’s the thing.

“So al­ways look on the bright side of death

“Just be­fore you draw your ter­mi­nal breath.”

(Words and mu­sic by Eric Idle).

It would be eas­ier to be cheer­ful if Mr. Obama wasn’t telling us he is go­ing to put us tril­lions of dol­lars in deficit this year pour­ing money down var­i­ous rat holes, while sav­ing money by leav­ing Iraq be­fore victory can be se­cured, cut­ting other de­fense pro­grams, tax­ing en­ergy, tak­ing a first cut at to­tally screw­ing health care (but first ex­pand­ing health-care en­ti­tle­ments even though we are al­most in­sol­vent).

All this, and more, he pro­poses in or­der to “get ex­plod­ing deficits un­der con­trol” and as an act of “fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity.” As in­de­pen­dent an­a­lysts es­ti­mate that the uni­ver­sal cov­er­age en­ti­tle­ment to which Mr. Obama as­pires will cost $200 bil­lion a year, I would ar­gue that if he wants to stop “ex­plod­ing deficits,” per­haps he could be­gin by not lighting the fuse of large deficit bombs.

Af­ter go­ing nuts bor­row­ing money on which our chil­dren will still be pay­ing in­ter­est in 2039 (the ma­tu­rity date for a 30year Trea­sury note is­sued this year), he of­fers “fis­cal re­spon­si­bil­ity” by his claim to re­duce the deficit he has just cre­ated by tax­ing the crap out of busi­ness and any­one left with a de­cent­pay­ing job.

Yes, that’s the ticket. Prom­ise to raise taxes on any per­son and any busi­ness that still pro­duces any­thing while promis­ing to give yet more hun­dreds of bil­lions to peo­ple who are al­ready a bur­den on work­ing Amer­i­cans.

Some peo­ple claim that al­though Mr. Obama was born in 1961, and thus is tech­ni­cally a baby boomer — he is re­ally a post-boomer. Just as he is pos­tra­cial (while his at­tor­ney gen­eral calls Amer­i­cans cow­ards for not blath­er­ing on about race.)

But re­gret­fully Mr. Obama is the very em­bod­i­ment of my boomer gen­er­a­tion. We will go down in his­tory as the gen­er­a­tion that was given ev­ery­thing, took ev­ery­thing, and left noth­ing — ex­cept debt, debt, debt.

Tony Blank­ley is the au­thor of “Amer­i­can Grit: What It Will Take To Sur­vive and Win in the 21st Cen­tury” and vice pres­i­dent of the Edel­man pub­lic-re­la­tions firm in Wash­ing­ton.

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